James O'Dell, M.D., the Stokes Shackleford Professor and vice chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Internal Medicine, and Paul Paulman, M.D., professor in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, were honored as the Varner Educator Laureates for 2018-19.

The Varner Educator Laureate Awards were presented at the Impact in Education Awards Celebration through UNMC’s Academic Affairs Office. The awards recognize individuals with sustained achievement in education who have significantly improved the UNMC learning environment through the provision of outstanding educational experiences.

The Varner Educator Laureate Award - UNMC’s top award for educators - is named after Jerald Varner, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering. In addition to his support of the Impact in Education Awards, Dr. Varner also currently funds the Varner Professorship in Pancreatic Cancer and Global Health in the UNMC College of Medicine, which is held by Chandra Are, M.B.B.S.

Dr. O’Dell has served as chief of the division of rheumatology since 1990 and as vice chair of internal medicine since 1997. He earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering (with highest distinction) from UNL and his medical degree from UNMC. He did his residency in internal medicine at UNMC and his rheumatology fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Dr. O’Dell joined UNMC in 1984 as assistant professor and was elevated to associate professor in 1990 and to professor in 1996. He has served as director of the residency program for internal medicine since 1990.

Dr. O'Dell has established himself as a clinician, educator and researcher. He has trained the majority of internists and many of the subspecialists currently practicing throughout Nebraska. He also has developed medical breakthrough therapies for rheumatoid arthritis and provided compassionate care for thousands of patients and their families.

Dr. Paulman earned his undergraduate degree from Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) and his medical degree from UNMC. He did his residency in family medicine at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. After working in Spalding, Nebraska, as a family physician for two years, he joined the UNMC Department of Family Medicine in 1982 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and to professor in 1997.

During his 37 years on the faculty, Dr. Paulman has been a driving force on several educational initiatives at UNMC. He helped spearhead the creation of the SHARING Clinics, a student-run clinical program designed to provide students with more opportunities to interact with patients. More recently, he helped launch the Simulation in Motion-Nebraska (SIM-NE) trucks, which travel around the state to provide emergency medical personnel valuable training in emergency care through simulation exercises.

Other recipients of 2018-19 Impact in Education Awards include:

Innovative Practices in Education Award:
Danish Bhatti, M.D., assistant professor, UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences. This award recognizes an individual who demonstrates ingenuity, courage and creativity in teaching, including innovations in use of educational technology, experiential learning, adoption of simulation and creative use of the classroom, as well as an engaging presentation style.

Inspirational Mentor of Educators Award:
Shannon Boerner, M.D., assistant professor, UNMC Department of Internal Medicine. This award recognizes an individual who has mentored and sponsored junior faculty or trainees at the local, regional or national level, including a consistent track record of fostering future educators.

Interprofessional Education Scholar Award:
Elizabeth Beam, Ph.D., assistant professor, UNMC College of Nursing Omaha Division. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to interprofessional education locally, regionally or nationally.

Research in Education Scholar Award:
Kendra Schmid, Ph.D., professor and interim chair, UNMC Department of Biostatistics. This award recognizes an individual who has advanced the educational literature through peer-reviewed publications, educational grants and original research.

Valor in Educational Service Award:
James Newland, M.D., emeritus professor, UNMC Department of Pathology & Microbiology. This award recognizes volunteer, emeritus, or adjunct faculty whose daily service to learners exemplifies the spirit of outstanding teaching or clinical supervision.

Visionary Leadership in Education Award:
Karen Gould, Ph.D., vice chair of education and associate professor, UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy. This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated the ability to skillfully establish or administer an educational initiative or role at UNMC or a national organization.